The Things We Leave Behind

It’s been a rainy week. I keep checking the weather forecast to see if conditions will allow me to paint this week. Today and tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny but I do not know if it will be dry enough to paint today and it’s supposed to rain tomorrow night so….painting outside this week might be a “no go.”

Yesterday a cold front came through and the temperatures dropped through the day to overnight lows in the 30s. I was chilled so I turned on the heat. Brrrr.

When EJ first moved up north in early March  to begin his new job, JJ and I got a lot of the packing done, emptying bookcases, closets, and drawers. We left the kitchen and downstairs bathroom alone because most of the items in those rooms are “essential.” However, since this week’s weather prevented me from working outside, and since our moving day is getting closer, I decided to begin packing the kitchen and bathroom. I plan to pack everything except what I absolutely need. I will have to get more boxes before I pack too many more things because I am running out.

Evil exercise thingy
Evil exercise thingy

Since JJ was diagnosed with cancer, I have not exercised much and our eating habits deteriorated. (We were too tired to fix healthier meals.) I gained some weight. Last night I looked in the mirror and thought, “Bleagh.” I hate doing exercises–like aerobics and pilates and exercise equipment. I think they are boring and feel like work. I’d much rather take walks outside where I can enjoy my surroundings and forget I am exercising. There are a lot of trails through beautiful surroundings near the Emerald City and I plan to do plenty of walking when I get up there. However, I thought I might as well get started now, so  last night I took the exercise thingy downstairs. I don’t know exactly what it is called. It’s not a bike or treadmill or elliptical–you lift your own weight by pulling back on the handles and pushing with the feet, sort of like a rowing machine. EJ says it works on strengthening the core and I thought I could use it while I watched something on Netflix to take my mind off the boring exercising. I managed to get the thingy downstairs (which was exercise in itself!) but Luke ran upstairs while the door was open. Rats! The cats are not supposed to be upstairs. He stopped halfway up the stairs, so I went to grab him but I forgot I was on the other side of the exercise thingy and I fell across it. Besides various bruises developing on various parts of my body, my foot scraped across the thingy and it is bruised and swollen. So now I have an exercise thingy downstairs but I cannot use it. This is my normal experience with exercises and exercise equipment. I always seem to hurt myself when I interact with them. I rarely hurt myself walking my Danny.

EJ has been working first shift for the last month. After years of working second shift, he is not used to getting up early so I have my phone alarm set for 6 a.m. so I can make sure he is awake. Each morning I send him a text such as “R U awake?” or “Wake up!” This morning I texted him “Have a gr8 day!” and then fell back to sleep. When I woke up again an hour later, I noticed that I had forgotten to send the text so I pushed “send.” He responded with “Uh, okay…” I looked at the text more closely and saw that I had actually written “Yage a tr8 day!” Obviously, I was not awake when I first wrote it. LOL.

Electrical Person
Electrical Person
Photo from

This morning I chatted with JJ at FB. He told me that the electrical people needed access to their hotel room and he was expecting them soon. The first image that came to my mind was of superheros with electrical powers. I know the electrical people JJ is expecting are simply repairmen, but I think the way I look at the world is much more fun. For example, the other day JJ saw a small sore on my face and he asked, “What happened there?” I could have told him it was a simply a small sore (duh) but instead I told him it was where an alien had entered my body and now it was in the process of taking over my brain. He said, “So I should kill you before it takes complete control?” We have fun conversations.

Imagination makes life more interesting. Photo from:
Imagination makes life more interesting.
Photo from:
Reaching for water!
Reaching for water! Photo from

This last weekend as we drove to the thrift shop to donate tables, I told EJ that I think we are storytellers. A nonstoryteller would say something like “After I worked outside, I drank a glass of ice water.” However, as a storyteller, I (and we) have to tell the whole story: “It was a brutally hot, humid day and the sweat poured off me as I pushed the mower over the long grass. All I could think of as I worked was the jug of cool water in the refrigerator. When I finished mowing, I staggered into the house, reaching into the refrigerator for the water like a desperate man dying of thirst in the desert….” A nonstoryteller states facts, while a storyteller describes the scene in vivid detail, making the reader understand the difficulties, the struggles, the emotions, and then the relief.

I told EJ that I want to describe how important this move to the Emerald City is for us, and why moving there gives us such feelings of joy, delight, and freedom. However, to describe that, I would have to put into words the difficulties, the struggles, and the emotions we felt living down here. However, there really is too much to put into words and I do not know how to set the scene without appearing to be negative. Like how do I describe EJ’s struggles at the company he worked at for 17 years? Without describing the struggle and his legendary endurance, a reader can’t understand the awed joy and relieved disbelief he feels working at his new company. How do I describe JJ’s struggles down here, including battling cancer? Without that, you can’t understand his joy and hope at being in the North.

And how do I describe my own struggles down here? I’d have to be able to put into words the damage of emotional abuse, which is difficult because so few understand it unless they’ve experienced it. I’d have to describe the struggle, pain, damage, difficult journey toward recovery. I’d have to put into words how it feels to brace myself whenever I go to the store in case I run into abusive family, or how various places are painful triggers. Moving to the Emerald City represents freedom to me–freedom from the dread of abusive encounters and freedom from triggers of painful abuse. I’d also have to describe how much I love natural beauty and how difficult it has been to have the sight of sunrises, sunsets, and approaching storms blocked by neighboring houses, and the stars blocked by the light pollution of nearby towns. Or how I long to see wildlife wandering across my yard. I do the best I can to bring beauty and wildlife into my yard with gardening and birdfeeders, but I thirst for more natural beauty like a desperate man in a desert longs for water.

All the things we love. Photo from
All the things we love.
Photo from

I told EJ that in the North there are layers of things we love. The foundational layer is the various beauty of the land–the forests, the sand dunes, the rivers and lakes and Great Lakes. Next there is the natural activities–gazing at the night sky, walking the trails, birdwatching, fishing. There is also the layer of simply enjoying having five acres in the Enchanted Forest to putter around in, gardening, EJ working in his shop, sitting on our patio drinking coffee in the morning. Then there is a layer of activities like watching the Tall Ships or the huge Great Lake boats or visiting lighthouses. There is also a layer of cultural activities such as festivals, and art shows, and libraries, and many other things we can enjoy. There is layer upon layer and each layer is a delight to us.

As I go about my day, painting and packing, I think of all these layers. I think that without understanding the things that we leave behind (abuse, discouragement, lack of wild beauty, lack of exercise and unhealthy food) , a person can’t understand the joy we are reaching for, but sometimes there are no words to describe it.



One Comment on “The Things We Leave Behind

  1. And not everybody is getting what they so desperately want and have to stay were they are and just accept that G’D sometimes just let them be in the situation as it is. So I can see that you must be so happy and thankful to received this move to the North with all you always wanted to enjoy. And away from the bad situation you have been struggling with. I hope that all your dreams com through . And also for JJ and EJ.


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